A Big Little Package for a New Crossover Challenger
We first drove the 2017 Kia Sportage a few months back for a short drive on the Monterey Peninsula. On reflection, not only was the drive impressive, but equally of note is the fact that this Kia fit right in cruising those tony neighborhoods.
What is this car? What does it want to be? What does it want you to think it is?
It’s a package deal—the SX AWD we drove is the top-of-the-line package. It’s a take it or leave it, with few options, but there’s a lot to take. The end result is a $34,000 Kia, which is not what most folks expect to pay for what used to be an entry-level brand. The good news is the lower-end Sportages that start at $22,990 hit Clean Fleet Report’s 30 mpg mark for AWD vehicles (more on that later), so we’re happy to add this model to our growing group of high-fuel economy SUV options.
The Elusive 30 MPG AWD Number
The 2017 Kia Sportage comes in three trim levels—the SX Turbo we drove and the entry level LX with the EX in-between. All come in front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD). The
catch is the 30 mpg highway fuel economy is attainable only with the FWD LX model. Add AWD and the fuel economy as measured by the feds drops to 25 mpg, a 17 percent drop that seems a little steep in a day-and-age when many automakers have found ways to offer FWD and AWD models with little change in mpg numbers.
That said, we found the direct injection engine in the Kia was more than capable of delivering fuel economy in excess of the EPA numbers, so the 30 mpg number for AWD models we believe is achievable.
Our SX model featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged gas direction injection four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive with locking center differential, drive mode select (DMS) and 19-inch alloy wheels. It’s a slick package in which we were able to fairly easily average more than 25 mpg on a run up and down Mt. Rainier in Washington State while still taking advantage of the 237 horsepower the engine offered. It’s a smooth runner that offered plenty of responsive power. In fact, sometimes it responded to intuitively I barely realized I was requested the power it so eagerly made available.
The 2.4-liter normally aspirated four-cylinder found in the LX and EX models, which still packs 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque will deliver slightly better fuel economy, but doesn’t have the spunk of the turbo.
Kia Moves into High-Tech
The 2017 Kia Sportage SX model with its one-stop package gives a glimpse into the high tech (literal) bells and whistles found on more expensive cars that are finding their way into mass-market cars like the Sportage.
A great example is the Harman Kardan radio package—didn’t I just see that in a Lexus? It has glossy black interior details, also reminiscent of a luxury brand or two and is surrounded by prominent stitchery on the dash, dark seats and storage areas.
The technology package (much of which is standard or optional throughout the Sportage lineup) is extensive and not something that will be mastered in the week I had in the car. One annoyance was the lane keeping chime that kept going off with every casual move, but you can turn it off. The tech was everywhere and the dash had enough buttons to show it’s there.
Features Galore (But Not on All Models)
The 2017 Kia Sportage is leading the brand away from its old position as an entry-level model to one featuring style and features on par with higher price brands.
As an example, in the interior you’ll find dual-zone auto climate control with auto defog, the optional Harman Kardon premium audio, SiriusXM satellite radio (free 3-month subscription), leather
seat trim (standard on EX and SX), heated and ventilated power front seats, push-button start with smart key (also EX and SX only), heated D-shaped steering wheel w/paddle shifters, five- or seven-inch color touch-screen display, rear camera display, blind spot detection, land change assist, lane departure warning system, rear cross traffic alert, front/rear parking assist system, autonomous emergency braking. UVO infotainment and connectivity platform. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. The entry-level LX model doesn’t offer all of the high-tech equipment and some is also optional at the EX level, but the total package is impressive.
Outside the Sportage has auto on/off HID headlights, dynamic bending light and high-beam assist, LED daytime running lights, LED fog and tail lights, power folding, heated mirrors w/LED turn signals, panoramic sunroof (on the SX), smart “hands free” power liftgate. Again, not all of these bells and whistles come without moving up the model ladder.
Safety Is Not Scrimped
One area where the 2017 Kia Sportage is less class conscious is safety. Though the current model Sportage hasn’t been crash-tested by the government or the IIHS, all models have dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, an anti-lock braking system, traction control system, electronic stability control, downhill brake/hill-start assist control and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Warranty and Pricing
The 2017 Kia Sportage has extended warranties that Hyundai brands have used to establish themselves in the U.S.
- Limited Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Limited Basic Warranty – Five years/60,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
Pricing for the 2017 Kia Sportage starts at $22,900 for the LX FWD, moves to $25,500 for the EX and $32,500 for the SX Turbo. AWD models are $1,500 more. Add $895 for delivery charges for all models.
The wind/road noise in the Kia was what might be expected in a compact SUV, but given the up-scale ambitions of the Sportage’s and its $30,000+ price tag, it seemed excessive. The Sportage did feature good visibility, something not found in all competitive models.
The back seat was comfortable and had good air flow as well as accessory plug-ins. It carried through the faux luxury feel of the front compartment.
The exterior color of our test car—Burnished Copper–stands out, but not always in a good way. We found though that it kind of grows on you. That also kind of sums up the 2017 Kia Sportage. It took a while to get comfortable with all of its gadgets, but once familiar, we found it an easy car to like and one that probably will continue to carve out a growing niche in the tough compact SUV segment against competition like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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